QUESTION AND ANSWER FOUR
Q. 4: What is the Word of God?
A. 4: The Holy Scriptures of the Old and New Testament are the Word of God, and the only certain rule of faith and obedience.
2 Timothy 3:16, Ephesians 2:20
The previous question we asked in the Baptist Catechism was, “How may we know there is a God?” This is a fair and logical question. One aspect of the answer revolves around the Word of God. Understandably, we ask the question, “What is the Word of God?”
This question has enormous implications, more so than we can answer in a brief blog post. However, we will discuss the answer the Catechism provides.
The first part defines what the Word of God is. It limits the answer, if you will, to the Holy Scriptures found in the Old and New Testaments. The discussion of the canon (or, what books should be included as Scripture) is a fascinating study. The Word of God is found, though, from Genesis to Revelation. It is a sure truth, a comforting truth, and a frightening truth (a discussion for the future).
The second part discusses the uses of the Word of God. In other words, “What does it do?” Like a child entering his father’s work shed asking his dad, “What does this do?” What does God’s Word do? We know that it tells us there is a God, and we also know that through the Word and the Holy Spirit sinners can be saved (see this previous post). However, the Catechism elaborates on this by stating, “[The Word of God] is the only certain rule of faith and obedience.” There are several aspects that need to be unpacked.
First, it is the only certain rule of faith. In other words, our discussions and debate provide interesting intellectual food, but it does not give us certainty. Thinking of it on the popular level, one pastor says this and another pastor says that. Which one is right? Without God’s Word, we cannot know. However, God’s Word is certain (for an elaboration of these thoughts, see Second London Baptist Confession of Faith, chapter 1).
Second, the Word of God is the rule of faith. That is, it is the set standard. What do we believe? What the Scriptures teach. How do we behave? We behave in accordance with the Scriptures. This is vital for our ethical and moral views. It is necessary for our worship of God and interactions with others. It is the rule, the standard, that whereby we live.
When we consider these aspects, it should be evident that there are many applications. They range from individual to the church at large. On the individual level, it requires us to submit to God’s Word as the supreme standard for our lives. This does not mean we do not need to study, on the contrary, we should study to understand the Scriptures (see Second London Baptist Confession 1:7). It also reminds us that we need to study the whole Scriptures, Old and New Testaments. They are God’s Word to us, all of them. Now, this does not mean that they all apply equally and in every instance. However, it does mean that God’s Word, in its entirety, should be studied and to which we owe our submission.
Applying it to our church, we need to understand that society, culture, science, or any other potential authority does not direct the church, God through His Word does. How do we govern the church? In accordance with the teachings of Scripture. What do we believe? We believe what the Scriptures teach. This idea has profound implications, providing guardrails to the church to keep her from steering off track.
The Scriptures are God’s Word, found in the Old and New Testaments. We must submit to them and live our lives by them, as individuals and as churches.